AJ Styles has to be more careful what he wishes for.
Or at least, he does as long as Daniel Bryan and Shane McMahon are at low-key loggerheads the way they’ve been over the last few months.
Make no mistake, folks, this match looks to be a simple 2-on-1 handicap, but the handicap here is actually 3-on-2 if you bring the magnifying glass up close. Sure, Bryan isn’t actually aligned with Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn and he’s made it clear to them on multiple occasions that’s the case, but the facts on the ground have had him on their side vis-a-vis Shane’s feud with Owens time and again.
And with good reason, as Shane has let his lust for vengeance run rampant after Kevin Owens not just insulted his family, but headbutted his father hard enough to draw blood. But rather than settle things with an escalating series of matches as is the time-honored tradition of pro wrestling, as soon as Sami allied with his old friend, McMahon went corporate and decided he’d rather just be rid of them the easy way.
So the American Dragon is associated with the bad guys, but for a good reason, and the WWE Champion gets the butt end of it all. Pro wrestling!
It’s rather brilliant, honestly, a bit of a masterstroke from our two intrepid Canadians. By co-opting Daniel Bryan’s Yes! Movement and adopting their own version of it as the Yep! Movement, they can’t help but gain the Smackdown general manager’s sympathy even as he shakes his head sadly at them not quite getting it.
More than anyone else in modern WWE, Bryan knows what it’s like to be held down by management, to be told to his face that he’s a B+ player that WWE wouldn’t likely miss if he was gone. He also knows that Shane’s regime on SmackDown isn’t as bad as Triple H’s Authority was on Raw by any means, but deep in the proverbial reptilian parts of his brain, the recognition sparks.
And like Bret Hart going to WCW and overturning a fast count that wasn’t, by god he won’t let it happen again, even if it means making a questionable decision or two along the way.
Let it not be said, however, that Owens and Zayn haven’t earned a title match. They’ve both defeated Styles in the past month, and we all well know a victory over the champ is usually more than enough grounds for a title match. They are, as Daniel Bryan has said repeatedly, two of the finest wrestlers on the SmackDown roster. They do, as the chant goes, deserve it.
Indeed, looking deeper into records, Sami is a slam dunk— he’s had three televised singles matches against AJ, and is 2-1 against the Champ That Runs the Camp. Owens’ luck has been rather worse recently as a result of their United States Championship feud, but overall he’s 6-4 against the Phenomenal One.
And there’s reason to doubt AJ, as aside from his two-minute blitzkrieg past KO on the most recent SmackDown, his two victories over Jinder Mahal that regained him the WWE Championship, and his victories over Jinder’s lackies the Singh Brothers, he hasn’t had a televised singles victory since September. Granted that adds up to a 5-6 record, and against the likes of Finn Balor and Brock Lesnar, but even so, the champ is on a bit of a weak run here, and arrayed against two men, well...?
Will SmackDown remain the House That AJ Styles Built or will Kami become the first-ever co-WWE Champions?
Who will win?
This poll is closed
Kevin Owens & Sami Zayn